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Earth NASA Science

Larson B Ice Shelf In Antarctica To Disintegrate Within 5 Years 293

BarbaraHudson writes: A new study (abstract) from NASA scientists predicts an Antarctic ice shelf half the size of Rhode Island will disintegrate around 2020. The shelf has existed for roughly 10,000 years. "Ice shelves are the gatekeepers for glaciers flowing from Antarctica toward the ocean. Without them, glacial ice enters the ocean faster and accelerates the pace of global sea level rise." At its thickest point, the ice shelf remnant is a half kilometer tall, and spans approximately 1,600 square kilometers. "The glaciers' thicknesses and flow speeds changed only slightly in the first couple of years following the 2002 collapse, leading researchers to assume they remained stable. The new study revealed, however, that Leppard and Flask glaciers have thinned by 65-72 feet (20-22 meters) and accelerated considerably in the intervening years. The fastest-moving part of Flask Glacier had accelerated 36 percent by 2012 to a flow speed of 2,300 feet (700 meters) a year."
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Larson B Ice Shelf In Antarctica To Disintegrate Within 5 Years

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  • Are you reading this Shell, Exxon and Chevron?

  • by sirwired ( 27582 ) on Friday May 15, 2015 @03:51PM (#49700221)

    Gee, it's a good thing Anthropogenic Global Warming is just a Big Leftist Conspiracy, or imagine how bad things would be!

    How much evidence is required before denialist clowns will be convinced that Global Warming is a thing, and it is almost certainly Our Fault? It's kind of amusing that the same people that will shovel 100's of $B and sacrifice thousands of lives to counter theoretical threats posed by countries all over the world somehow require absolute irrefutable "I must personally get burnt before I'll ever admit fire exists" proof when it comes to climate change?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      How much evidence is required before denialist clowns will be convinced that Global Warming is a thing, and it is almost certainly Our Fault?

      I am sorry but your assumption is invalid: that denialists are actually looking at the evidence. Denailists are watching the clowns on Fox News and listening to clowns on Talk Radio who tell them that the snow storm they just experienced is all the proof they need that Global Warming is a hoax. They consider Scientific American to be a liberal rag and scientists to be liberal elitists and therefore; to be ignored. No, I am not making that up. I was paraphrasing my Rush and Hannity listening neighbor.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by zapadnik ( 2965889 )

      My understanding is that we are in an Interglacial Period and we would expect things to warm naturally. At the current rate of melt (159 GT/year) Antarctica will take around a quarter of a million years to melt down (given its ice mass of approx 26400000 GT). From the historical perspective this seems to be a particualrly SLOW rate of natural melting.

      Over the past few millenia we've seen the Roman Warm Period, Medieval Warm Period, and Little Ice Age. We are now recovering from the Little Ice Age which

      • by dywolf ( 2673597 ) on Friday May 15, 2015 @08:57PM (#49702587)

        that's an awful long post.
        too bad its all bullshit.
        such a waste of time and effort.

        -no one is asking to give politicians "unlimited power to regulate every aspect of your life"
        -lots of people, far smarter than you, have already investigated, tested, and evaluated all the various natural process candidates.
        -no one is saying we need to get below 100ppm CO2
        -you ask for scientific evidence, when there are already tens of thousands of scientific reports and papers and findings already published.
        -actually all of the observations DO support the theory. in fact they are the basis of it.
        -actually all of the satellite data DOES support it.
        -funny you mention the "adjustments". all the adjustments made actually lower the amount of apparent warming. it's not adjusted to match the theory, its adjusted to account for changes in instruments over the years, or location, or other factors. yeah, that's right. without the adjustments, the apparent amount of warming would be 20% higher.. this may be a shock to you, but a thermometer int he sun will read a higher temperature than one in the shade just a few inches away. so that way all the data is on the same baseline.
        -nope, the models havent failed.

        seriously, just fuck off.
        your tropes are so tired and out of date, its getting boring repeatedly rebutting them every day.

        you are the equivalent of a drunk in a bar questioning Einstein. Or more accurately, several thousand Einsteins.
        (and seriously, who modded that bullshit insightful?)

      • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 15, 2015 @09:15PM (#49702677)

        My understanding is that we are in an Interglacial Period and we would expect things to warm naturally.

        Hi, geologist here.

        Your understanding is wrong. Or at least you misinterpret it.

        We are indeed in an interglacial period, but were at the end of one before we fucked it all up. The warming period you expect happened 20-14 thousand years ago, and stabilized to what was the current climate between 10 and 6 thousand years ago. Indeed the stability of the climate over the last 10k years is widely credited with providing the right conditions for the development of agriculture and thus civilization. Those days are now done, what comes next is uncharted territory.

        But the relevant laws of chemistry and physics are indisputable, known since Fourier's time in the early 1800s, and immune to PR and politics. The fine details of second order and tertiary feedback effects will only ever tweak the result, those won't and can't overcome the basic fundamental gross effect dictated by physics.

    • I will bet you 500USD right now that on May 15, 2020, this ice shelf will still exist and will have shrunk by not more than 606 square miles. (50% of the area of Rhode Island)

    • by doug141 ( 863552 )

      It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it! -Upton Sinclair

      There's just too many people making money on fossil fuels.

    • by rtb61 ( 674572 )

      Gees, take it easy, you make it sound like they are denying man made climate change without reason or that they don't actually accept the reality of it. The main reason for global climate change denial, is so that existing corporations that generate profits with the polluting side affect of global man made climate change, can continue to generate profits doing so for as long as possible. The second reason and now becoming the major reason for the denial of man made global climate change is the offloading o

    • I will believe man made global warming is a crisis when the powers that be start acting like it. A few examples:

      - Secretary Clinton is *proud* of how many miles she traveled in an airplane to far off nations. She couldn't make a phone call?
      - POTUS and family vacation in Hawaii at least once a year, a long way to go to play in the ocean.
      - Congress would not approve nuclear powered ships due to costs, built oil fired ships instead. That's not how someone would act if they actually believed that global warm

  • 5 years (Score:5, Insightful)

    by judoguy ( 534886 ) on Friday May 15, 2015 @04:49PM (#49700719) Homepage
    If everything DOESN'T go to hell in 5 years [wikipedia.org], will the AGW people shut the fuck up? No, I didn't think so.
    • Scientists predict the arctic ocean will be ice free [bbc.co.uk] by2012 [nationalgeographic.com]. Or maybe by 2015 [discovery.com]. Or by the year 2000 [google.com]. Hard to say, really.
      • Re:5 years (Score:5, Informative)

        by MrL0G1C ( 867445 ) on Friday May 15, 2015 @07:25PM (#49701985) Journal

        Scientists predict the arctic ocean will be ice free by2012. Or maybe by 2015. Or by the year 2000. Hard to say, really.

        File:Arctic-death-spiral.png [wikipedia.org]

        Not hard to say at all, it's clear where that spiral is heading. Zero Ice at the north pole.

      • by dywolf ( 2673597 )

        only on the topic of global warming is the stereotypically abysmal quality of science reporting of major media ignored and their statements treated like the absolute Gospel of what every scientist involved has ever believed, ever.

        here's a clue: news reporters != scientists
        so just cause they say it, doesnt mean the scientific community is saying it.

        • You obviously didn't read anything I linked to. It wasn't the 'major media' saying anything, it was scientists saying things.

          Here's a clue: just because one scientific paper says something, doesn't mean the scientific community is saying it.
  • Isn't there anywhere that's half the size of Rhode Island that this ice shelf could be compared to?

  • Please forgive me for hijacking this thread with a question related to the Larson B Ice Shelf rather than global warming, but I was hoping someone could shed some light on how this ice shelf formed during the current interglacial. I would've thought more or less all of the major ice shelves and glaciers around the world were relics of the Pleistocene, but it sounds like this formed during the hottest part of the Holocene (with the possible exception of today).

    • by HiThere ( 15173 ) <charleshixsn@ea r t h l i n k.net> on Friday May 15, 2015 @05:34PM (#49701121)

      Saying that it formed during the current interglacial is misleading. This is an ice shelf, and ice shelves are the result of glaciers moving into the ocean and not breaking off. So it probably formed because the glaciers started moving a bit more rapidly, and it also probably had ice at the oceanwards side that broke off and melted, and which may well have been older.

      FWIW, glaciers are always moving, but as the start to melt their motion speeds up. For a glacier to grow it needs to be accumulating new ice faster than it looses it through moving into an area where the ice is removed faster than its formed. This was said in a sort of general way, because some glaciers live high in the mountains, and when they descend they drop chunks of ice down hill. In the case of an ice shelf, the glaciers are pushing out onto the ocean and floating, so the weight of the terminus is suspended. This "ice shelf" creates back pressure that tends to hold the glacier in place, but the glacier is also pressing the ice shelf to move further out to sea, where it becomes unstable.

      • That explanation makes sense, thank you. So was there probably a different kind of ice formation there during the Pleistocene, or did the lower sea levels mean that the parent glacier of this ice shelf either didn't reach the ocean or had a very different-looking ice shelf attached?

        • by HiThere ( 15173 )

          Sorry, I can give general explanations about how ice shelves work, but I don't know the specifics of Larson B. But clearly different sea levels would mean that the ice shelves would form in different places. As to what name they would have ...

          As an aside a lot of the argument among paleontologists, and others of the ilk, is about names rather than about facts. E.g. there often isn't enough solid information available to say whether two fossils are of different species...so people guess. Some people like

  • ...maybe we'll see more of that petrified wood from Antarctica.

    You know, from when it wasn't snow and ice? (Yet somehow the world didn't end?)

  • la la la la I CAN'T HEAR YOU la la la la

  • I'd be interested in a small wager on the outcome of this prediction. Without knowing much about it, I'll bet that it comes true in slightly more than five years, say seven years. Anyone want to bet a small sum that it doesn't come true? A small sum to me is, oh, between five and two hundred dollars.

Happiness is twin floppies.